Young girl looks through a sprig of leaves.
Exploring Nature Young girl looks through a sprig of leaves. © Devan King/TNC

Nature Lab

Youth Education Resources for Ages 5-11

All Resources for Ages 5-11 (U.S Grades K-5)

Download our educational resources for students in elementary school. Lessons cover how dirt works, the role of pollinators, how nature filters water, and more! Each lesson plan comes with a free teacher's guide and video.

Teacher Guide

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How Dirt Works

Soil sustains plant and animal life, regulates water, filters pollutants, cycles nutrients and supports structures. In this lesson, students learn the value of soil and its role as a natural resource. This lesson uses the video "How Dirt Works" below.

Teacher Guide

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The Role of Soil

Soil is the building block of all natural systems and is a crucial resource for all life on earth. When managed properly, soil supports healthy and productive habitats in your garden and in nature. In this lesson, students conduct soil analyses to understand soil types and determine the health of their garden soil. This lesson uses the video "How Dirt Works" below.

How Dirt Works Soil sustains plant and animal life, regulates water, filters pollutants, cycles nutrients and supports structures.

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How Water Works in Your Garden

By filtering rainwater and slowing the movement of water to rivers, lakes and oceans, your garden works as a mini-watershed. In this lesson, students calculate the permeable surface area of their garden and periodically measure rainfall amounts, acting as junior hydrologists. Watch the Educator Support Video.

How Nature Makes Clean Water How does a watershed work — and why are these natural filters critical for clean drinking water? This video explores how watersheds benefit people and nature. It also explains how a student-built water garden can demonstrate the filtering power of a watershed.

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Food and Carbon

Students will consider different ways food is produced, transported and consumed and will evaluate how food they grow locally may have a smaller carbon footprint than food found in the grocery store. The Industrial Tomato and The Local Tomato highlight the differences between the two types of tomatoes.

The Industrial Tomato In this video series, you'll be challenged to consider different ways food is produced, transported and consumed and will evaluate how food you grow locally may have a smaller carbon footprint than food found in the grocery store.
The Local Tomato The carbon “foodprint” of vegetables and fruits is complex, involving how the food is produced, how it reaches us, and what we do with it.

Teacher Guide

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Gardens as Living Systems

In this lesson, students explore how a garden works as a living natural system. A garden filters water, provides habitat, improves soil, reduces your carbon footprint and engages the community.

Urban Habitat: Biodiversity in Our Cities A garden provides habitat for many diverse species, small and large. Learn why biodiversity is important - even in urban spaces!

Explore Our Youth Curriculum

Access resources aligned to The Nature Conservancy's research and designed specifically for a young audience and classroom use.